Saturday, 27 June 2015

'Mirror, signal, multiverse' by Anne Summerfield


Three years after he died, I saw my father in a car coming towards me. It was at a tricky crossroads, so I’d been looking hard at the stream of black and blue painted metal, trying not to be distracted by the sun glinting on chrome. He was in a silver grey car and, once I’d pulled out into the traffic, he’d turned to tuck in behind me. I saw him in my wing mirror, and then in the rear view. I accelerated to get away, but the roads weren’t the sort for much speed and he caught up with me at each bend and when I needed to slow for the school patrol. I’d not thought of him as the racer type before but he was clearly no longer risk averse. So I tried to second guess where he might turn off, looked out for his indicator lights to give me a chance to choose another way. He was less bothered about indicating too, in spite of the chant of mirror, signal, manoeuvre he’d inflicted on me for years.
     For too long a time we were locked in cat and mouse pursuit. I was determined not to let him follow me home. I imagined that grey car parked behind mine on the narrow drive, trapping me into awkward conversation. At last, I reached a roundabout and decided to circumnavigate until he was thrown off. Just as nausea was setting in, I saw him turn in the direction of the motorway and let me alone.
     I’ve always had nightmares about seeing myself in an oncoming car. Two time lines or two manifestations of me rushing together, coming together in a crash of dimensions. I tell myself these things are not possible, that theoretical physics is just that and there is only one version of me. I’m not sure this is true.  For though it disturbed me to see my father, on reflection I found myself glad that there was a speeding version of him still in the world, revving at school crossing patrols and making dangerous decisions at red lights. A version following a woman who might be his daughter, or some other universe’s clone of his daughter, as she headed too rapidly towards her own destiny.

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